History of the UCSB Office of the Ombuds

Old fence near campus lagoon

The Office of the Ombuds was established at UC Santa Barbara in 1970 as an alternative channel for communication and dispute resolution. The first Ombuds, Geoffrey Wallace, served in the role of Campus Ombuds for over 30 years until he retired in 2004, at which time the office was closed temporarily. A Task Force on Dispute Resolution and Mediation was appointed by Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas "to consider the support [the office] provide[s] for dispute resolution and mediation in the context of the current budget constraints and the structural changes that have occurred on the campus since the inception of this program." The Task Force report recommended the reopening of the Office of the Ombuds, and the Executive Vice Chancellor supported the recommendation and re-opened the Office of the Ombuds in January 2005. Read the task force's final report here.

Currently, we have four staff members: the Campus Ombuds, the Associate Ombuds, the Analyst, and a part-time Faculty Ombuds.

The Ombuds Concept

The first ombuds office was established in Sweden in the early 1800's to provide citizens with a place to bring their concerns and complaints regarding the government. The word "ombudsman" (OM-buds-man) is Swedish in origin, although many contemporary offices choose to use "ombuds" or "ombudsperson" to describe themselves. The basic purpose of an ombuds is to help people informally resolve conflicts or complaints. Organizational ombuds provide information, options, and impartial review for individuals, as well as feedback and recommendations for system change to senior management.